Lidia Karmazina, Ph.D. (Political Science), acting assistant professor, Chair of Theoretical and Applied Political Science, Department of International Relations, the Abai Kazakh State Pedagogical University, member of the Russian Association of Political Science (RAPS) (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Today there are ten political parties in Kazakhstan but only one of themthe Peoples Democratic Nur Otan Partysupports the government. The rest are regarded as the opposition.

The Communist Party of Kazakhstan (CPK), the Communist Peoples Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK), the Azat Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, and the National Social-Democratic Party of Kazakhstan (NSDPK) can be described as the active opposition.

The camp of the moderate opposition is made up of the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, the Adilet Democratic Party, the Party of the Patriots of Kazakhstan (PPK), the Kazakhstan Auyl Social-Democratic Party, and the Rukhaniat Party.

The parties relations with the government, their political views, their actions, and the tone of their statements divide the parties into active and moderate.

The moderate are critical yet, on the whole, constructive when it comes to a dialog with the other parties and the government; the active are mostly driven by the idea consolidating the opposition bloc into a united front to stand opposed to the ruling elite.

Heated polemics about whether or not the opposition in Kazakhstan meets the standards political science has established in the West have been going on for some time now. The analytical and expert communities have more or less agreed that the answer is No.

This approach is based on the critical/loyal attitude toward the government or, rather, toward the president. Some people mistake oppositional sentiments for an anti-system stance.

Political science claims that a party becomes oppositional when either it has lost an election or fails to achieve a parliamentary majority thus standing no chance of acquiring a place in the cabinet. This means that the degree of involvement in executive state power is the main criterion.

Several parties may win an election and form a coalition government while opposition parties might acquire seats in the parliament to form a parliamentary opposition. The first side with the government, while the latter criticize it; they might, however, side with the authorities on individual issues. They are described as the opposition because they have been left outside the government.

The second constitutional reform made it possible to take a scholarly approach to the concept of opposition: before that the parties were excluded from cabinet-forming. The first years of independence (1991-2007) created a non-classical approach to the phenomenon of the opposition: it is commonly believed that in Kazakhstan the opposition stands against the government rather than the ruling party.

Today Nur Otan is the ruling party, the rest belong to the opposition; none of them have factions of their own in the parliament. Indeed, the one seat held by the PPK in the Senate cannot be taken seriously because it opens no doors to the executive structures. Below I shall proceed from this.

The opposition in Kazakhstan appeared in the 1990s at the dawn of pluralism in the former Soviet republic. Independence and

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